A study done at UC San Francisco found that women with the BRCA gene may enter menopause earlier than those who do not have the gene.

 

What is BRCA?

 

What is the BRCA gene? BRCA1 and BRCA2 stand for BReast CAncer genes 1 and 2. These two genes are the best-known for being linked directly to breast cancer risk. Everyone has these genes, but some have an inherited mutation in one or both genes that increases the risk of breast cancer.

 

Women with these mutations tend to go through menopause significantly earlier than those who do not have the mutated gene. A study done by researchers at UC San Francisco found that women with the BRCA gene enter menopause and average of three years before women without the gene.

 

Implications

 

Besides the obvious implication of possibly getting breast or ovarian cancer, women with this gene also must face the fact that they will enter menopause much earlier than other women. This allows them a much briefer reproductive window. “Our findings show that mutation of these genes has been linked to early menopause, which may lead to a higher incidence of infertility,” said senior author Dr. Mitchell Rosen, director of the UCSF Fertility Preservation Program and associate professor in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. “This can add to the significant psychological implications of being a BRCA1/2 carrier, and will likely have an impact on reproductive decision-making,” Rosen said.

 

Solutions

 

Because this mutated gene can cause breast and ovarian cancer, some women take the preventative measure of removing possibly at-risk tissue, such as their ovarians and/ or breasts. Lifestyle choices you can make include maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly limiting or avoiding alcohol altogether, eating nutritious food and never smoking.

 

As we learn more and more about the BRCA genes, women are able to take necessary precautions. Those include small lifestyle changes, earlier child rearing and sometimes even preventative measures to remove the breasts.